Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Suffering and Persecution

Volume 5 No. 306 September 25, 2015
This Week's Features

Why is there Evil in the World? How About Suffering?

No Pain, No Gain - No Truth

By Alex McFarland

Common Objection: "Why is there evil in the world? How about suffering?"

"How can you say that God is loving and good when there's so much evil and suffering in the world?" As the college student's question echoed in the auditorium, an audience of several hundred people silently awaited my answer. The questioner had more: "I mean, if God is all-powerful as Christians say, why doesn't He fix the world? Can He? Or does God not care?"

Ah, the problem of pain. It's a perennial issue for the defender of Christianity, and rightfully so. It's also a big question, deserving of a substantive answer. For the Christian apologist, it boils down to this: How are we to reconcile what we believe about God (that He is all-powerful, good, wise, loving, just and merciful), with the undeniable realities of sin, death, evil, pain, injustice and evil in this world?

A supremely perfect Creator and grossly fallen world appear to be two irreconcilable concepts, or what's known as an antinomy. But what we can't forget is that the problem of evil doesn't nullify the claims of Christianity. Just because suffering exists doesn't mean God is any less loving or good. Even the atheists and skeptics who base their unbelief on this issue inadvertently raise a number of philosophical problems for themselves. "The pessimist's case at once poses us a problem," noted C.S. Lewis. "If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator?"

Then Who Caused the Current Catastrophes?

Every year seems to bring with it a new round of seemingly unexplainable disasters. Recently, in the aftermath of the worst tsunami in human history and an onslaught of deadly hurricanes (Katrina, Rita and Wilma), many were asking, "Where is God? Why did God do this?" Once again the antinomy rose its head: If God is so powerful, why didn't He control the waves? If He's so wise, wouldn't He have known beforehand? And if He's so full of love, why did He allow it?

Before directly addressing those questions-all of which deal directly with the character of God-let's acknowledge the present condition of this world. The last three chapters of this book have dealt with our state of sinfulness. So far, we've established that 1) we are by nature evil; 2) we deserve the ramifications of such iniquity; 3) we can't "work" our way out of receiving those consequences. Because we live in a fallen world full of sin and evil, and because God is perfect and sinless, we can therefore assume we are the cause of what's wrong in this world. From that basis, we can also define the two types of evils in this world. First, there is moral evil (sin, murder, theft, rape, war, carnage, etc.). These are direct "expressions," if you will, of our sinful state. But there are also natural evils (disasters, accidents, calamities in the physical world), all of which are the results of that moral evil. In other words, the moral evil that we incite brings about the natural evil that's often expressed through nature.

Think about the weather patterns we see on a daily basis and how these might be connected to our disobedience. You'll recall the account of Adam and Eve's choice to sin against God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Later on, the world had become so evil that God judged the human race through a worldwide cataclysmic flood (Genesis 7-10). During and after the Flood, the earth's plates shifted and crumbled, and its climate was drastically altered. Through the family of faithful Noah, the human race was spared and the planet's population was once again replenished. But in the post-Flood world, earthquakes still occur, as does the annual cycle of tropical depressions, hurricanes and tornados.

Does God cause every storm? Not really. From the first hint of lightning following the flood of Noah, the earth's weather has simply followed the pattern of humanity's sin. Some have even surmised that the recent increase in violent weather reflects the increase in our sinfulness. Statistically speaking, the damage from recent hurricanes could've been much worse. According to NASA, the United States has the world's most violent weather. In a typical year, the U.S. experiences some 10,000 violent thunderstorms, 5,000 floods of varying sizes, 1,000 tornadoes and, as we know all too well, numerous hurricanes.

With this in mind, it's a wonder that more places aren't severely damaged by weather, or that more lives aren't lost. Rather than blame God, it's probably more suitable to praise God, given the data, and ask, "How is it that the human race is so protected and shielded, given the self-inflicted dangers posed to humans by this world?" We cannot forget that humanity-not God-is to blame for natural evil. It was our sinfulness that caused God to curse the earth (Gen. 3:17). As Romans 8:21-22 points out, the world is in bondage and is suffering from man-induced "corruption."

God did not create the world this way. His intent wasn't to have a fallen creation-neither man nor nature. When God looked over all that He had created, He said, "It is good." And when God says that, you know something is perfectly good. But in our sinfulness, humanity chose to rebel against God, which ushered in sin and death, and in the process also caused chaos throughout the earth.

A Solution in Sight

God will eventually make the world new again. Revelation 21:4 promises that "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain." Right now, we're still shedding tears. There is death, sorrow, crying and pain. The late preacher Dr. Vance H. Havner (who was highly influential in Billy Graham's life) was renowned for his take on a Hungarian proverb:: "Adam and Eve bit the apple, and our teeth still ache." Indeed, the ache is felt on a regular basis with each news flash reporting the latest tragedy. The ripple effect of sin touches every life, every family, every culture. But it won't always be like this.

More than any other belief system, Christianity can adequately and authoritatively address the origin and presence of evil while also offering hope in the eventual eradication of all pain. Unlike Eastern religions, Christianity doesn't deny that evil is real. It's uniquely positioned to offer hope and meaning. In Christianity, we can understand how evil came to be (the temptation of Satan and the fall of man-Genesis 3). We can accept the fact of our guilt, but we can also rest in the promise of God's solution, which involves His unfathomable love.

Think about it: To accomplish our salvation, the Creator allowed Himself to be murdered by His creation. Obviously, that doesn't make sense to our limited understanding, just as it doesn't make sense that a loving God would allow pain and suffering. Yet through Jesus' victory over sin, death, evil and the grave, the world's healing is conclusively guaranteed. It's as if God says, "Trust me, world … if I can rise from the grave and conquer death, be assured that I am able to conquer any problem you are facing!"

Instinctively Right

The reality of sin and evil is certainly not solved by reverting to skepticism or atheism. Again, just because you refuse to acknowledge God doesn't change the fact that bad things happen in this world. The amazingly insightful C.S. Lewis put it this way: "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word darkness on his cell." Our inborn, innate rational faculties (what your grandmother called "common sense") tell us that there must be a God, God must be good, and good will win in the end.

We intuitively know that good is better than bad. We're born with a keen sense of justice. All you have to do to figure that one out is watch a group of children around the table at a picnic: "He took my cookie! Make him give it back!" The desire to see justice served is universal. And deep in their hearts, most people believe that God will, in the end, justly iron out all of the world's wrinkles. Taking comfort in his knowledge of God, Abraham asked, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25).

We can securely place our hope in the fact that God is in control and that He will, at least someday, make everything right. With that, our comfort can lie in knowing that in His Word, God has promised to do precisely these things … and more.

But Why Must the Innocent Suffer?

This is a question that brings to mind the issue of God sending to hell those who have never heard His name before. In Chapter 8, we referred to this as the "Africa question." Its answer lies in the truth that all humans are inherently sinful, that we innately know the difference between right and wrong, and that we'll always choose to go against God.

For the question of the innocent suffering, the answer is the same. First, we must recognize the error in calling anyone "innocent." We do this according to our standards of goodness-not God's. God is not only completely righteous, He is also the only one worthy of judging who is innocent and who isn't; and He has already deemed all of humanity as guilty because of our sin. The Bible says that everyone-even those we call innocent-has sinned and egregiously missed God's intended standard, which is holiness (see Rom. 3:23). We have a two-fold problem: We inherited the sin nature of Adam, and we commit sinful deeds on our own. We "know the right," yet "do the wrong." We are guilty.

The only truly innocent person who ever lived was Jesus. Jesus was perfect and sinless, deserving of worship and praise yet rejected and killed. The righteous Jesus suffered on the cross for guilty humanity. As theologian Dorothy Sayers wrote, "For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is-limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death-He had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine. … He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace, and thought it well worthwhile."

Still, some may be stuck at that seemingly unconquerable question-WHY? Before we demand that God give an accounting, we must gently remind ourselves that all suffering is ultimately self-inflicted. The original humans used their moral faculties-choice, will, volition-to rebel against God. Our free will is the origin of pain, suffering and the entry point for sin into this world. The obligation is on us to praise Jesus Christ for enacting a solution, not on God to apologize to us.

God, however, mercifully does two things for us in relation to our questions about suffering. He has graciously disclosed enough information to help us process our grief appropriately. God has told us where sin came from, its unfortunate results and how evil will finally and fully be banished one day. Christ's empty grave is an incredibly comforting promise from God that essentially reminds us He is in control. We can safely trust Him.

Not only has God given us knowledge of our pain and a reminder of His sovereignty, He's also given us hope and purpose.

Pain for a Purpose

If we accept that the results of evil-pain, suffering and death-are not from God yet are allowed by Him, then we must assume that they play a part in His plan. And since we know His plan is one of eternal redemption, that the world will be saved, then it's safe to say that pain must play a role in our personal redemption. Pain indeed has a purpose.

In what has become his trademark quote, C.S. Lewis observed that challenges and the pains of life are tools by which God can get our attention: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

For a non-Christian, this may seem ridiculous. And yet it may be that suffering is the only means the nonbeliever will see his need for Christ. Only God knows this. Meanwhile, believers who suffer can emerge from their valleys with purified character, deeper faith and a greater awareness of how truly faithful God is. For those who subscribe to Lewis' statement, the important thing is to remember that God is loving and merciful even when trials and sufferings are permitted to come into our lives. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them" (Rom. 8:28, NLT).

Both the Bible and history are replete with examples of overcomers-people for whom suffering became a springboard to spiritual growth and personal accomplishments. In no way do I mean to be trite, or to minimize the pain that many people have gone through. But even in the midst of a fallen, wounded, suffering world, there is ample proof that God is in the "restoration business." Consider these overcomers:

Demosthenes, often called the greatest orator of the ancient world, stuttered. The first time he tried to make a public speech, he was laughed off the platform. Napoleon Bonaparte graduated from military school forty-sixth in a class of 65 students. Ludwig van Beethoven, one of history's greatest composers, was deaf his entire life.

Charles Dickens was lame. Thomas Edison, who was deaf, tried and failed so many times at inventing the lightbulb that lab assistants who once admired him began to mock him. John Bunyan spent his adult life in a prison cell, but he gave Christendom a book called Pilgrim's Progress, which has been continuously in print since 1678.

Before setting a world record for running the mile, Glenn Cunningham was burned so severely on his body that doctors predicted he would never walk again. Various teachers wrote the following comments about a certain young student: "A slow learner; retarded; uneducatable ..." His name was Albert Einstein. George Frederick Handel was lame, physically challenged, yet this composer gave the world "Messiah" and its beloved "The Hallelujah Chorus."

Who knows ... your name could be added to this remarkable list of those who refused to give into pain and suffering and went on to accomplish extraordinary feats. Like so many others, you can join the ranks of understanding that God, even through the darkest hour of anguish, has a plan.


Reasons why the existence of suffering does not negate the reality of God:

• Because of what this world is and is not
• Because of what humans are like
• Because choices yield results
• Because God has acted
• Because good can come
• Because the story isn't over

20 Reasons Why God Allows Suffering in the World

Suffering uncovers what is really inside of our hearts.
Suffering breaks us of our pride.
Suffering can deepen our desire for God.
Suffering can mature us.
Suffering can breed humility.
Suffering may be a warning of something potentially worse.
Suffering can jump-start our prayer life.
Suffering may prompt a lost person to receive Christ.
Suffering may lead a Christian to confess sin.
Suffering helps deepen our trust in God.
Suffering can deepen our appreciation for Scripture.
Suffering helps us appreciate other Christians who were victorious.
Suffering can take our eyes off ourselves and this world.
Suffering can teach us firsthand that God truly is sufficient.
Suffering can connect us with other people.
Suffering can create an opportunity for witness.
Suffering can lead a person into Christian ministry.
Suffering can make us grateful for what we had or still have.
Suffering can position our lives to bring more glory to God.
Suffering, properly handled, will result in rewards in heaven.

About The Author:

Author, educator, and speaker Alex McFarland has spoken in all 50 states and internationally. He is the founder of Truth For A New Generation, the nation's largest conference on apologetics and evidence for the Christian faith.

Source: Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk
Copyright ©2015 Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk All Rights Reserved

The Persecuted

by Paul Estabrooks

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you
because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you."

- Matthew 5:10-12

With our hunger and thirst for righteousness comes the promise of persecution for those who take a stand for God. We have not been called to safety and comfort but to serve in the midst of conflict. Persecution is not to be strenuously avoided, for it is the result of righteous living. To avoid it, one would have to cease living righteously.

The early church went through much persecution for their faith in Christ. It affected their livelihood. They had to ask themselves, Should a Christian craftsman create idols for the temples? Or should a tailor sew robes for heathen priests?

Persecution affected social and family life. Most feasts were held in the temple of some god. A common invitation would be dining at the table of such a god. Even an ordinary meal in a home began with a cup of wine poured out in honor of the gods, like grace before a meal. Could a Christian share in such a meal like that?

Severe persecution meant being flung to the lions, burned at the stake, or being wrapped in pitch and set alight to provide light for Nero's palace gardens. Or it meant being sewn in animal skins and set upon by Nero's hunting dogs. Christians were tortured on the rack; scraped with pincers; had molten lead poured on them; had red-hot brass plates fixed to the most tender parts of their bodies; had eyes torn out; had limbs cut off and roasted before their eyes; had hands and feet burned while cold water was poured over other parts to prolong agony.

Most of us have never in our lives made a real sacrifice for Jesus. To have to suffer persecution is to walk along the same road as the prophets, the saints, and the martyrs. To suffer persecution is to make things easier for those who are to follow. To suffer persecution is to experience the fellowship of Christ, as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did in the furnace (Daniel 3:19-25). It is not always so dramatic, but it is nevertheless real. Most of us enjoy the blessing of liberty today because men and women in the past were willing to buy it for us at the cost of their own blood, sweat and tears.


I will accept persecution, whether mild or hot, which comes as a result of righteous living.


Lord, encourage those today who are experiencing severe persecution for Your name.

© 2010 Open Doors International. Used by permission

Surprised by Suffering: The Targeting of Christians

by Jill Carattini

Gayle Williams was a 34 year-old foreign aid worker serving among the disabled in a country where humanitarian work is both needed and dangerous. Williams was killed as she walked to work in 2008, targeted by a militant group because they believed she was spreading Christianity.

The targeting of Christians by individuals and terrorist groups throughout the world continues to make headlines. Hostage beheadings recorded for the world to see seem to aim at wielding the maximum amount of terror. At Kenya's Garissa University, where 147 people were killed in April, students were separated by religion. Muslims were allowed to leave; death was reserved for Christians.

When confronted by the stories of those who live their faith among people who hate them for it, I am confounded, inspired, saddened, and thankful all at once. The death and murders of Gayle Williams, the Garissa students, and so many others startles those at ease in their faith to reflection. The pervasive opposition in the lives of these believers awakens even seasoned believers to their own apathy. How courageous is the believer who follows Christ among those who hurl insults and hostility, how treasured the Bible that must be buried in the backyard for protection, how sacred the faith of one who is willing to die for it?

For those of us who live in far less hostile environments, news of persecution may seem foreign, frightening, and difficult to fathom. Their experiences bring the words of the early church to life in a way that many of us have never considered. When the apostle Paul wrote that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ—neither "trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword"—he was referring to struggles that were dangerously real to him and the people to whom he was writing. "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies."(1) Peter, too, encouraged believers in their troubling situations. He urged them to stand in hope with Christ regardless of their affliction; he reminded them that discomfort and suffering was a sacred part of following the wounded one. "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ."(2)

The apostles' words do not take away the injustice of brutal murder or the offense of terror. But they do assuage the shock of its occurrence. Jesus told his followers to expect persecution; in fact, he said they would be blessed by it. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad… for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."(3) Peter's words encourage the suffering not to see their painful trials neither as strange or out of the ordinary, nor as a badge of their own making, but as something that further marks them as believers and unites them in even greater intimacy with their leader. Persecution may be always jarring, unfair, or lamentable, but it is not strange when it happens to those who follow Christ. Perhaps it is stranger when it is not happening.

Mark Twain once said, "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." For those who live the faith we profess without challenge, trial, or risk, reflection may well be appropriate. Is it possible that we have so shut ourselves up in Christian circles that we have closed ourselves off from the world of need and hence any chance of suffering for Christ? Is it possible that we are so at ease among the majority that we avoid venturing out as the loving minority among those who might hate or hurt us? Certainly we experience hostility and persecution indirectly. But how we are personally interacting with the angry, the lost, and the broken masses Jesus once wept over is another thing entirely. How effectively we live as "the salt of the earth" that Jesus described depends on our place and posture within it. Surely salt that remains content within the shaker has lost its saltiness.

And for those peering into the Christian church, whether critically or curiously, the deaths of Christians around the world, the sufferings of Christian aid workers in places no others will go, and the daily trials of believers who live courageously in dangerous places are stories that speak most clearly of Jesus, the very one who joined humanity in its human lament and mire and longing. They are also stories that depict what can happen when the salt of the kingdom is allowed to season the earth. Gayle Williams is said to have been the hand of Christ among some of the world's most forgotten. "Remember the words I spoke to you," said Jesus to his disciples. "‘No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:20). And then he was led away like a sheep to the slaughter.(4)

About The Author:

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.


(1) 2 Corinthians 4:8-10.
(2) Peter 4:12-13.
(3) Matthew 5:11-12.
(4) Isaiah 53:7.

Source: A Slice of Infinity
Copyright 2015 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

Five Truths to Remember When Evil Seems to Be Winning

by Jennifer Heeren

A sweet, retired schoolteacher was murdered outside of her home. She received multiple injuries during the attack. People described her as kind, loving, caring, respectful, and very sweet. She was a good person who worked her farm, gave back to her community, and played piano at her church. Former students said that they loved her.

This news story touched me deeply because I had met the sweet woman years before this recent terrible event took place. However, similar stories of injustice fill the news broadcasts on a daily basis. Sometimes you know someone personally, and sometimes you're just appalled that it could happen to anyone.

What do you do when life doesn't make sense? Do you give in to the notion that there must not be a God or if there is, he is uncaring and calloused? Some people do but this only leads to more bitterness in the world. God never meant for his created human beings to go it alone in this world.

The author of Ecclesiastes thought long and hard about the many injustices in life. He didn't see wrong being made right. He saw burdens, pain, and suffering. He saw judges and other people who were supposed to keep peace acting corruptly. He saw oppressors who sought to magnify their power over their victims. He saw dangers lurking around every corner and uncertainties abounding. From his point of view, everything seemed meaningless.

This dim picture doesn't seem very far from what happens today.

Sometimes it's enough to make you want to cower under a warm, security blanket. However, that isn't the answer either. What is then?

Keep in mind these five things when evil seem to be winning:

1. It is okay to ask God why.

Don't hide your worries and doubts. Keep your thoughts honest about your confusion. It's okay to hate injustice. God hates injustice too.

2. Keep praying.

Keep reading your Bible. Don't run away from God into your own opinions and mindsets. Fight bitterness at every turn. Keep searching for his answers. You may not always see those answers but if you keep on searching, you will gain some peace and understanding.

3. Be glad about trials - not that they exist - but that with the help of God's strength, you can endure them.

Trials stand out starkly on the backdrop of genuine faith. The confusing trials of life can refine you whether they make sense or not.

4. Remember that God loves you no matter what you go through, see, hear about, or feel.

God so loved the whole world that he gave his only begotten son. That may have seemed like an injustice at the time, but it was actually the plan of a sovereign God who wanted to make atonement for all sin once and for all.

5. Remember that you're not alone.

When Jesus rose again and then left his disciples in the world, he said that he would send another helper. He did. It's called the Holy Spirit and he is always with you to help you understand better and get through those trials.

As a bonus, I'll throw in a sixth reason to keep your faith even in the midst of trials and tragedies. God will eventually bring every injustice and wrong action into His light. This will allow the mourners and the victims to be made new again (Revelation 21:5). God never overlooks his people when they are mistreated. He uses it, in some way, for their good.

Even when you don't see the end (yet), you can still focus on as many good things in life as you can. Sometimes it's hard to find them. The good are sometimes like whispers in the middle of a large, loud chaotic room. Nevertheless, keep any eye out for them. Treasure them within your heart and soul. Communicate them to others. Keep the good alive along with the bad. It may sound simple but sometimes it's the little things that can get you through the tough things.

King Solomon also concluded something similar. He ended his "life is meaningless" rant with the following words:

Here is my final conclusion:

Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone's duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad
(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

In addition, Jesus said that in this world you will have trouble. But he went on to say that you can also have peace because he has overcome the trouble of the world (John 16:33).

About The Author:

Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write things that bring people hope and encouragement. She regularly contributes to She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at

Source: Daily Update

My Safe Place in the Storm

by Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Lord, you are my strength and my protection, my safe place in times of trouble
(Jeremiah 16:19, NIV).

Friend to Friend

The comfort of God is faithful and strong - even during the fiercest storms of life. I enjoy movies that have a happy ending. My family constantly teases me about my surreal perspective of movie entertainment, but honestly, life holds enough reality. Why would I want to pay good money to see even more reality made bigger and more frightening on a gigantic movie screen? When the movie "The Perfect Storm" was first released, the previews suggested it had a happy ending. I should have known better, but we love the water and I remember thinking it couldn't possibly be that bad – right?

We bought tickets, popcorn and drinks, found the best seats in the theatre and prepared to be entertained. Wrong!

Every scene showed tiny boats caught in the grip of frightening waves and fierce winds. I kept waiting for the storm to die down so everyone could go home with a boat full of fish to their anxious families who were confidently waiting for them on dry land.

Crash! Another monstrous wave belted the boat and crew.

By the end of the movie, I never wanted to set foot on a boat again and was worn out from trying to get everyone home where they would live happily ever after. I was tempted to demand a refund because of false advertising. Believe me, there was definitely no happy ending, but I did come away with a new fascination and deep respect for the sea.

I have a friend who loves to sail. When I asked him if he had ever been caught in a bad storm, he responded, "Many times!" I shook my head in disbelief, concluding that my friend was obviously a glutton for punishment.

"Then why on earth do you keep sailing?" I asked him. His answer was profound. "Mary, every sailor knows there will be storms. You just learn what to do when the storm hits. In a severe storm, there is only one thing to do and only one way to survive. You have to put the ship in a certain position and keep her there."

The same is true in our lives. When the fierce storms of life overwhelm us, there is only one thing to do if we want to survive. We must position ourselves in the right place – in the hands of God – and He will keep us safe and secure until the storm has passed.

The words of the psalmist are filled with confidence and hope. "He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed" (Psalm 107:29). We really can trust God to bring peace and to reduce the fiercest storm to a mere whisper. The faithful provision and sustaining comfort of God at work in our life depends on the character and heart of God and our willingness to trust Him.

I love our children with all my heart. Naturally, there are times when they make me angry. They make wrong choices and sometimes even disappoint me. But if they are hurt, sick, or in trouble, the anger, disappointment and even disobedience is overruled by my love for them and a driving need to comfort them. If my imperfect heart responds to my imperfect children that way, think about how the perfect heart of our heavenly Father responds to us.

Richard Fuller writes: "This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you. Reason cannot help you. Past experiences give you no light. Only a single course is left. You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may - winds, waves, cross seas, thunder, lightening, frowning rocks, roaring breakers - no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm and hold fast your confidence in God's faithfulness and His everlasting love in Christ Jesus."

We can face every storm with confidence, knowing God will redeem it for good. We can trust few things in this life, but God's faithfulness is one of them. When the hard times come, and the storms roll in, trust God and hold on. He is with you. He is your safe place.

Let's Pray

Father, Thank You for Your faithfulness. Forgive me when I let fear and doubt rule my heart and mind instead of choosing to trust You. Give me eyes to see the treasure buried at the heart of every storm, and help me choose joy - even when I don't understand what You are doing in my life. Teach me, Lord. Let my life be an illustration of Your strength perfected in my weakness.

In Jesus' name,

Now It's Your Turn

Looking back at the storms in your life, how would you rate your response to those storms? What changes do you need to make in order to experience victory?

Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6 and record it in your journal. Share your decision to become a woman of faith with other women who have the same desire.

Source: Girlfriends in God

Aleppo Melkite Prelate Reflects on His 20 Years as Archbishop, All That He's Lost in the Last 4 Years
"Comforting the people and encouraging them to persevere has become an indispensable effort. Helping the faithful in their distress has become a priority for me"

Here is a letter from Aleppo, written by the Melkite Archbishop of the city, Jean-Clément Jeanbart, reflecting on his 20 years of service there, as he now fights for his faithful to stay in Syria. The letter is made available by Aid to the Church in Need.

* * *

It has been 20 years, exactly. On Sept. 16, 1995, the Church saw fit to appoint me to lead the Diocese of Aleppo. It was a solemn day in my life; even as the celebrations surrounding an Episcopal nomination were taking place and festive atmosphere all around pushed all worries aside, I foresaw already, without saying a word, all the efforts and hard work that this responsibility would call on me for I didn't know how many years.

A few days later, the warm and enthusiastic welcome with which the faithful of Aleppo, turning out in great numbers, awaited my arrival in the city, moved me profoundly and confirmed my commitment to dedicate myself wholly to serving them.

The Diocese of Aleppo is one of the oldest Sees of the universal Church. It already was established in the third century and in 325 its archbishop participated in the Council of Nicea. In both the ancient and recent history of the Middle East this active and prosperous community was a center of Christian radiance in the region. It is a reason to be really proud and it has always moved me, giving me a strong attachment to the local faithful past and present and lending an extra dose of enthusiasm to the exercise of my episcopal ministry.

In fact, during all these years of intense efforts, I have been able to accomplish more than I could have hoped! It has been my joy to ordain ten priests and build three new churches, while restoring the fragile, two-centuries-old archdiocesan headquarters. Three classic residences dating back to the 17the century were restored to their former glory to house various diocesan initiatives. Two new schools and four new institutes saw the light of day during those years blessed by the Lord!

Housing projects gave more than 200 couples the opportunity to get married and to many more the hope to do so, as they awaited the completion of the work - work now halted by this ugly war. Then there was the creation of student residences, vacation homes for young people, a congress hall, and all kinds of spaces for cultural events and community gathering. I stop here to thank God for all the graces granted and of which it is not useful to speak here.

Today, at the very moment that I am writing these lines, bombs are raining down on the residential neighborhoods of the city. There may be as many as 60 dead and 300 wounded. The people are bewildered; they don't know where to find shelter. Three months ago I had to move out of the archdiocesan residence, after it was heavily damaged in the bombing. I never thought that what is happening to our city could ever be the case.

Today, Aleppo is a wounded city in the full sense of the word. All socio-economic, artistic and intellectual activities that were its joy have been brought to a halt; at the same time, the city's archeological riches and ancient patrimony, our source of pride, have been badly damaged.

The residents of this hardworking city, who were pretty well off now find themselves in a miserable state, after four years of this unjust, barbaric and destructive war. They are without work, without resources, without security, without water, without electricity, deprived of all hoped-for pity and help from Western Christians expected in vain. Western governments appear to be either indifferent or unjust, not to day perverted by the lure of dirty money, the mortal enemy of all fairness and all justice.

It is four years ago today that my mission changed directions. Comforting the people and encouraging them to persevere has become an indispensable effort. Helping the faithful in their distress has become a priority for me. At the end of my career, because of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, I have been given a new mandate, with an uncertain outcome and uncertain guidance. I had imagined by now to have retired in all peace and tranquility!

When all is said and done, these last three years I had to forget that I was 70 years old and to run to wherever I could in order to lighten the load that is weighing down my beloved people: with financial support for those left without any means; scholarships; food supplies; medical care; fuel to make it through the winter months; shelter for the displaced; repair of damaged homes; and lastly the provision of water to families and the installation of small water tanks in poorest households. My co-workers and I have mobilized lately to become alert watchdogs, to make sure the needs of the faithful of whom we are in charge are met.

The latest scourge that is beating us down today is the exodus of Christians, which is a form of deportation, condemning our faithful to a humiliating exile and our 200-year-old Church to a deadly drying up. Our attackers have done everything to bring this about. Firstly, they have terrorized the people in the city; next they destroyed factories, all commerce, institutions and homes, forcing people to leave and try to make a living elsewhere. They finally made this desertion possible by allowing smugglers to organize massive convoys heading for the West. What a tragedy!

The phenomenon is very disconcerting - it appears to be apocalyptic and fata for our Christian communities in the Levant. But I, like many pastors of the people of God in Syria, remain confident because we believe in Him who has promised to remain with those who are His.

On this anniversary of my episcopate, I fervently wish that you join me in asking the Lord to protect the faithful He is given into my care, so that this Church that is two millennia old, of which I am in charge, can continue its prophetic presence in this beloved country. They are waging war on us, but we want to make peace. They seek to destroy; we seek to build. They are trying to exile us; we are fighting to stay put. In brief, all that we await is peace and we want to Build to Stay.

Aleppo, Syria Sept. 16, 2015

Metropolitan Jean-Clément Jeanbart is the Aleppo's Melkite Archbishop

Source: Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. (USA)


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